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Making school lunches fun, and healthy 

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School’s just around the corner, which means the long, restful days of indulging in ice cream and light summer repasts are nearly at an end. It’s true that preparing a planned meal—whether it be a boxed lunch for the schoolkid in your life, or yourself—is a lot less fun than just grabbing a bite when the mood strikes.

If you fancy a switch-up from your stale Saran-wrapped sandwich routine, consider a mason jar salad, which appear to be all the rage across the Pinterest and blogging universe. Most bloggers recommend using the jar to create layers of ingredients, allowing you to keep everything separate until the lunch bell rings. Firmer, heavier vegetables should be placed at the bottom of the jar while lighter, more delicate accents—like fruit—be placed toward the top.

If you’re looking for an inexpensive and convenient vegetable fix, Branch Mill Organic Farm (branchmillorganics.com) offers a weekly vegetable and fruit box for $12 for a medium-sized order or $25 for a large box. Their current lengthy list of available items includes baby lettuce, arugula, chard, tomatoes, bell peppers, basil, tarragon, red potatoes, garlic, broccoli, summer squash, edible chrysanthemums, raspberries, and lemons among many more items, many of which would fit quite nicely into a lunchtime mason jar salad.

If you’re not sold on the vegetables, or simply want an alternative, consider cooking up some oatmeal over the weekend, and dividing your haul into mason jars for breakfast for the week to come. You can accessorize your oatmeal to taste, although milk, cinnamon, dried fruit, walnuts, jam, brown sugar, and honey are some tried and true favorites.

My favorite mason jar meal is cornbread and chili. Simply pour the chili into the bottom of the jar and add cornbread batter on top. When you’re ready for your meal, pop the jar into the oven, simultaneously heating the chili and cooking the cornbread. If that doesn’t make studying a little more pleasant, I don’t know what will.

  

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